Friday, August 22, 2014

Kale Slaw - A Delicious Combination of Flavors!


Have you joined the kale bandwagon yet?  If you don't already know, kale is amazing for your health.  One cup of chopped kale contains a whopping 684% of a daily dose of vitamin K, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C and 9% of calcium. On top of that, you also get some minerals like copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. And, it only has 33 calories!

Here is a delicious recipe for kale slaw - a great way to eat raw kale.  My initial inspiration to make this salad was the fact that I'm growing kale in a large container on my patio. I tried growing it in the ground but the bunnies found it way too delicious!


The variety of kale that I'm growing is called Dwarf Blue Curled Kale from Botanical Interests.  I just planted another large container of Red Winter Kale, also from Botanical Interests, for a fall crop (fingers crossed). 

The great thing about kale is you just harvest a few leaves from each growing plant and it will keep growing more leaves!  I think I have about 15 plants in my large container.   


My second inspiration for this salad was a kale slaw post by Sue from View from the Great Island. It was the first time I had seen a kale slaw and I loved the idea. I did a little research and plucked ideas from her post and several other recipes I found online and came up with my version of this wonderful slaw.  It has ribbon-cut kale, shredded carrots, shredded red cabbage, sliced green onions, chopped parsley and toasted sunflower seeds. The dressing is a Balsamic-Dijon Vinaigrette.  A delicious combination of flavors!  The first time I served it alongside grilled halibut for guests.  The second time, was as a side for burgers on the grill for my family.  The third time, for my lunch you see here.  

Next time, I'll try adding some chopped dried cherries or dates - Mmmmm! 


You don't have to grow your own kale to enjoy this salad.  Many stores stock baby kale in clam boxes or bags, or bunches of fresh kale on the produce shelves near the lettuces. 


This would make a delicious salad to take to work with a slice of crusty bread or a few grilled chicken slices on top.  Or, simply enjoy lunch at home with a good magazine.  I don't think you'll be disappointed! 


Kale Slaw with Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette

Printable Recipe

Makes 2 main dish portions or 4 side-dish portions

Salad:

2 cups of kale leaves, stems and any thick veins removed - make a stack and slice into ribbons
1 cup of red cabbage, core removed, sliced thinly into strips
1 large carrot, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
1-2 green onions, sliced thinly, including some of the light green part
1/2 cup parsley, stems removed and chopped (could also add 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil if you have it)
1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds (you could also sub toasted pine nuts)
1/4 cup chopped dates or chopped dried cherries (optional)

Dressing:

1/8 cup of good balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 teaspoon each Salt and Pepper

Slice and chop kale, red cabbage, carrot, green onions and parsley (can be done in the morning and placed into a plastic container or zipper bag. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the dressing, place the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the 1/3 cup of olive oil until emulsified. Taste and add more olive oil or seasonings if desired. Also may be made in the morning and refrigerated, covered until ready to use.

About 30 minutes to one hour before serving*, place the kale mixture in a salad bowl. Add the sunflower seeds and dates, if using. Add the dressing, a little at a time, and toss until well coated. Allow to stand or refrigerate until ready to serve.

*Note: The thicker and tougher the kale, the longer the salad should be dressed ahead of time. I used baby kale from my garden so all it needed 30 minutes to rest.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Refrigerator Dill Pickles


It's cucumber time in my little Wisconsin Garden. I love them in freshly sliced in simple salads with my own garden tomatoes but when you have far too many to eat fresh, you need to make pickles! This year, I decided to branch out from my usual Refrigerator Pickle recipe which is sweet and similar to a Bread and Butter pickle.  I love them but my husband prefers dill pickles so here you are, Honey :)  When I first offered him a taste he said "These are really good!". 


I mixed my own herbs and spices, added some fresh dill flower heads and lots of garlic.


Since I had so many dill sprigs left after making the dill pickles, I also made some dilly beans and zucchini spears using the same recipe! I added a few thinly sliced onions to dilly beans (see note below)*.  I am still looking at quite a few dill flower heads so looking for more veggies to pickle now :) 


I love my Fido Clamp Jars that you see in the very first photo, the Golden Harvest jars that the beans are in and the Weck jar above but for refrigerator pickles, beans and zucchini you can use any glass jar with a lid that you have as they are not 'canned' in the traditional way. You will need to keep these stored in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.  

My favorites jars I only use for decoration...


These are jars are from my mother's antique bottle and jar collection that she shared with me and my sister before she passed away.  I use them as vases and also display them with other memorabilia from my late mother on a shelf my little home office.  

Wouldn't you love to know who originally owned them, how many recipes were made and stored in them? I believe the 1/2 gallon Ball Mason jar on the right is probably the oldest dating to around 1900. Considering the fact that few people even owned a refrigerator until much later, canning jars were a very important part of life then.  Can you even imagine? 


Refrigerator Dill Pickles


Makes about three 1 1/2-pint jars (my jars were varied sizes)

12-15 small pickling cucumbers (the bumpy ones)
2 cups water
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
Fresh dill flower heads - about 1 large to 2 small heads for each jar
9 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into 2-3 slivers

Seasonings:

1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dill seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole juniper berries (optional)
1 bay leaf, crumbled

Combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan.  Heat just until warm and the sugar and salt have dissolved.  Set aside to cool. 

Combined seasonings in a small bowl.  Divide the seasoning mixture equally among the jars you are using. 

Trim ends from cucumbers and slice.  I like the slices fairly thick - about 1/4-1/2 inch but you can also cut them into spears if you like. Fill each jar with sliced cucumbers but leave about 1" from top empty. 

Tuck in 1-2 dill heads into each jar and about 3 slivered garlic cloves.

Pour the cooled vinegar mixture over the cucumbers to cover. Cover jars with lids and close tightly.

Refrigerate at least 7-10 days for best flavor.

Pickles will last refrigerated about 2 months - if you don't eat them all before then :-)

*My Note on Dilled Beans:  I parboiled fresh beans for 3-1/2 minutes and then plunged them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process before putting them in jars with pickling solution.